Rare Rides: Bertone by Any Other Name, the 1979 Volvo 262C

rare rides bertone by any other name the 1979 volvo 262c

Today’s Rare Ride is an example of the first time Bertone added heaps of Italian build quality to an ordinary Volvo midsize. We’ve covered Bertone’s second effort ( the 780) long ago, so it’s past time we talk 262C.

Though Volvo fancies itself upscale today, the company was not a luxury manufacturer in the Seventies. The Swedish purveyor of boxy and practical was ready to step outside its traditional mold in 1979. That year, the company offered two (!) exciting new cars with only two doors. The more attainable two-door was the 242 GT we’ve covered previously, but that coupe was fairly spartan and focused slightly on performance. What about luxury? What about the grand touring businessman customer in America?

Volvo had previously not bothered with said luxury coupe customer, so what changed? Circa 1975 one Henry Ford II paid a visit to the Volvo factory in Sweden and shipped over a very Personal Luxury Lincoln Continental Mark IV to drive while he was there. Swedes in the local area and at the Volvo facility were most interested and intrigued by the enormous Lincoln. “Ett ögonblick” (one moment) said Volvo, as they set their designers to work on a Swedish take on the personal luxury coupe.

Volvo kept the new 262C’s work in-house: The two-door was penned by Jan Wilsgaard. Changes to the standard 262 two-door sedan included new pillars and roof, windshield surround, upper door frames, and cowl. Like the later 780, the 262C featured a chopped roof – nearly four inches lower than the standard car. 262C was not for fans of big hats.

The luxury coupe’s interior was much different from the 260 too, with standard equipment like central locking and power windows. There was air conditioning, cruise control, heated seats, and an interior swathed in button-tufted and ruched leather with luggage strap motifs. Unlike other Volvos, there were also big slabs of real wood inside. It was all very 1979. Most examples in ’79 and ’80 also had that special American touch: a vinyl roof. That option was removed for 1981.

Power carried over from the top end of the 260 and was provided either by 2.6- or 2.8-liter PRV V6 engines. A four-speed manual was the standard transmission, but most customers chose the three-speed automatic.

Volvo had no spare manufacturing capacity and handed the construction of the 262C over to Bertone. The Italians assembled the expensive coupes at their Turin factory. The majority of 262Cs were destined for the United States market, which was supposed to thoroughly appreciate an upscale coupe from Volvo. In North America, Volvo aimed directly at two established luxury coupe names: the Cadillac Eldorado and Mercedes 280CE. It did not go well, as the emeritus professors and practical people who purchased Volvos didn’t want such a garish coupe, and luxury customers respected a Cadillac or Mercedes badge far more than a Volvo one.

The 262C was canceled after the 1981 model year, with just 6,622 examples built. Afterward, Volvo took a break from luxury coupes for four years until the 780 arrived in ’86. Today’s 262C is a silver over black example from the early part of the model’s run. Yours for $24,000.

[Images: Volvo]

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  • Russycle Russycle on Oct 05, 2021

    I remember seeing a couple vinyl-topped specimens back in the day. Weird car. I actually kinda like it without the vinyl.

  • Bocatrip Bocatrip on Oct 05, 2021

    The weak link for this unique Volvo was the V6....troublesome. The proven 4 cylinder would be the way to go if the lack of power could be tolerated. Good looking Volvo.

  • Snickel Fritz I just bought a '97 JX 4WD 4AT, and though it's not quite roadworthy yet I am already in awe of it's simplicity and apparent ruggedness. What I am equally in awe of, is the scarcity of not only parts but correct information regarding anything on this platform. I'm going to do my best to get this little donkey back on it's feet, but I wouldn't suggest this as a project vehicle for anyone who doesn't already have several... and a big impressive shop with a full suite of fabrication/machining/welding equipment, and friends with complimentary skillsets, and extra money, and... you get the idea. If you don't, I urge you to read up on the options for replacing anything on these rigs. I didn't read enough before buying, and I have zero of the above suggested prerequisites... so I'm an idiot, don't listen to me. Go buy all of 'em!
  • Bryan Raab Davis I actually did use the P of D trope, but it was only gentle chiding, for I love old British cars of every sort.
  • ScarecrowRepair The 1907 Panic had several causes of increased demand for money:[list][*]The semi-annual shift of money between farms and cities (to buy for planting and selling harvests)[/*][*]Britain and Germany borrowing for their naval arms race[/*][*]San Francisco reconstruction borrowing after the 1906 earthquake and fire[/*][/list]Two things made it worse:[list][*]Idiotic bans on branch banking, which prevented urban, rural, and other state branches from shifting funds to match demands. This same problem made the Great Depression far worse. Canada, which allowed branch banking, had no bank failures; the US had 9000 failures.[/*][*]Idiotic reserve requirements left over from the Civil War which prevented banks from loaning money; they eventually started honoring IOUs illegally and started the recovery.[/*][/list]Been a while since I read up on it, so I may have some of the details wrong. But it was an amazing clusterfart which could have been avoided or at least tamed sooner if states and the feds hadn't been so ham handed.
  • FreedMike Maybe this explains all the “Idiots wrecking exotic cars” YouTube videos.
  • FreedMike Good article! And I salute the author for not using the classic “Lucas - prince of darkness” trope, well earned as it may be. We all know the rap on BL cars, but on the flip side, they’re apparently pretty easy to work on (at least that’s the impression I’ve picked up). On the other hand, check the panel fits on the driver’s and passenger’s doors. Clearly, BL wasn’t much concerned with things like structural integrity when it chopped the roof off a car designed as a coupe.